Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Peril of Too Many Pelicans

Sometimes a block just cries to be printed in many different ways, and such is the case of my pelicans.  They have been on "fabric" and they have been made into a "dress", but they were not content.  There was a piece of marbled paper in my flat files and they screamed to be printed on it.  Between the Pelicans and the paper wailing "oil spill, oil spill" I had no choice.  This cacophony must be stilled.  The result:

 And, I was happy with this until..... one day as the print was lying on my framing table another print of the same image, but on the filmy Japanese paper that I used to make the dress, fell on top of this one.  Oh my!  This led an entirely new dimension.  So, I lined them up and then very carefully adhered  the two together.  There is no going back now.  Here is the final product:

This set my oil slick more in the background and gave the whole scene another dimension - almost making it look 3D without the glasses.  Whoa, Nellie!  I could be on to something!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Black Swan

Finally - the much grumped about Black Swan print is done, done, done and I'm going to deliver them to Barbara this evening.  Getting a decent photo or scan has been a problem, however.  Metallic paint just doesn't put its best foot forward in situations like this.  You will just have to take my word for it that these look a whole lot better in person. ;-)

I think most everyone nowadays knows what a black swan is, and it is not a swan that comes in black.  It is an incident that, although you may have planned for it, it far exceeds the scope of your planning and is devastating. That is how it was described to me.  I think that pretty much covers the quake, tsunami, and subsequent problems at the nuclear plant.  Some of the flowers are the radioactivity icon, though that may not be apparent to anyone but me.

Two blocks were printed, the red and black.  A gold block was cut, but I could not find a gold pigment that would print as bright as I wanted, so the gold leaves and swans were painted.  A tiny lino was cut for the stamen and pistils and printed in black and gold.

                                                           Earth quakes.  Tsunami. 
                                                    Suddenly, black swan:  flowers

(My apologies to all you poets...)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

After the Fabric comes the Dress

Printing the "Fabric of the Gulf" (see the previous post) and working with this delicious Japanese paper, the desire to attempt to sew it up into something was too much temptation to resist.  With that in mind I found a cheap pattern and went home ready to print and sew and that I did.  While at the fabric store a few days later looking for black satin to fashion a slip and oil spill for this piece,  I ran into Ross Dress for Less (conveniently located next door) and ran into the most perfect dress form in a size and shape unknown to any human female.  I grabbed that baby and stuffed her into my cart so fast it made my head spin. And, when I got her home she perfectly fit the dress which is a more or less size 4.   A Great Debate followed as to whether or not my new model needed a slip.  I finally decided it made a much stronger piece with a black background for this transparent paper.

With every piece we do we should learn something which will make the next piece we do even better, right?  Well, I learned so much on this one that my next venture should be a real doozy.

And to give you a little closer look:

The bird nest was contributed by a family of hummingbirds.  It is filled with three Sculpey  eggs looking pretty oily thanks to some acrylic pigments.  The title of this dress is Big Problems For Sale.  According to the tag, this is brought to you by Bad People and can be yours for a mere $200 biillion.  Information on the reverse of the tag says, " Species at risk, people at risk.  Waiting for restitution."

A few days later I printed the same block one more time, but that will be the next post.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Japan Relief print

I'm ready to start the Japan Relief print - I think.  Hopefully, all the layers have been thought out and will come together as the brain pictures them.  This is the drawing, which is loosely based on a greeting card image by a Yoshi Watanabe who is/was chief of business administration in the econ department at Japan's Josai University and who gave permission for his image to be used by UC Riverside.  I've tried to find a way to reach this gentlemen & asked his permission to take off from his work, but to no avail.  Well, we'll see - maybe he will materialize and I can ask and, I hope, he will say yes....  If anyone knows how to reach him, would you let me know?
Mr. Watanabe's work had cranes, where I have swans, placed a little differently, too.  One of my swans will be black, and all of Mr. W's cranes are gold.  Mr. W. had all the same flowers, where some of mine have taken on the shape of the "radioactive" icon.    Mr. W's swans and leaves are metallic gold and I hope I can do the same with mine, except for the black one, but we'll see.  They may take on a different color depending upon the luck I have with the gold powder...

So, here is the block with the image transferred:

I wanted to show you this image because I've used the  "Studio Paper" sold by McClain's.  You just print the image onto a sheet of this paper using an ink jet printer.  Then invert it and rub it lightly onto your block.  The ink sits on top of the paper long enough for you to easily make the transfer.  As you can see, every detail transfers beautifully.  No toxic chemicals were used transferring this image.  And, the best part is that you can use the sheets several times.  Just wipe the remaining ink off the paper after your transfer and it is ready to go again.  I love it.  Now, all I have to do is learn to make my own transfer paper.  I have an idea.... we'll see if it works.  Maybe tomorrow... but, now it is time to carve.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Caer & Angus

After several weeks of carving (I'm neither speedy nor tenacious) and a solid week of printing, the work for the Mythology exchange is done and ready to go into the mail and wing its way to IL.  Carving the line print on a piece of cherry plywood from McClain's was pure joy.  I think I only had one spot where a piece splintered and took off on its own and that was easily repaired with the fake wood stuff.  In addition to the line block the others were yellow, blue and red.  The final block was for embossing the swan's heads, necks, and wings.  I think it was a successful print, but I, of course, had to run into one pot hole along the road to completion.  I read David Bull's entry on embossing in the Encyclopedia at www.Barenforum.org and he cautioned to dampen the block to keep the paper from slipping.  I guess I overdid the dampen part and the sumi, which had been printed the day before, blurred and ran in places of its own choosing.  Finally, I quit the dampening and had no more problems.  The paper was still damp enough from printing, I guess, that it didn't move.  I confess to cheating - I used the etching press to do the embossing.  It wasn't particularly faster, but it was a lot easier on my elbows, which is what David recommends!  He is just made of sturdier stuff than I am, and besides, he's younger.
Enough good things can't be said regarding Guerra pigment dispersions.  They are just truly fabulously fantastic.  Such nice rich colors and so very little ink used - they are amazing.
The story of Caer and Angus was told on the previous entry, so I won't repeat it here.  Here they are making beautiful music together.  Listen carefully and you may be lulled to sleep for 3 days and nights. (Or maybe just reading this entry will do that.....)

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Progress is slow

It has been very quiet around here as the carver has been busy plying her trade with her  poor little arthritic fingers. (Play for sympathy, in case you missed it.) They (the fingers) seem to move a little slower each time a new block is started.  But, today was Proof Day.  I don't know how other woodblock people approach this by my feelings are a mixture of pure dread, and curiosity.  Therefore, I seem to breathe rather shallowly until that first proof has been pulled.  This time there was a great letting out of breath and normal breathing quickly followed.  It is not bad!  Here is a photo of the block - from which you can probably tell very little.  I had intended to show where I had to build the block back up because my line peeled right off with a mere brushing of a shirt sleeve.  I don't think that shows very well, so you will have to imagine that part.  It was done with wood epoxy pressed into the spot that needed repair and then carved again just like it was the original thing. McClain's sells this product and it can also be found at most home improvement stores.  It is like a miracle drug.  Fixes even the most egregious errors. (I imagine - since I have never, of course, had any of those egregious errors myself.)   :-/

And, here is the proof on dry copy paper


So, now we are ready to march along with the colors.  Two blocks have the images transferred so I am ready to start seriously seeing how I can combine colors on the same plate... I guess I'll start with the yellow and see what happens.  These things are always an adventure - one step at a time! (Hopefully, those steps are forward...  it is so annoying when they go the other direction...)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mythology 101

OMG, I signed up for another exchange -- something I think I remember saying I would never do again, but here we go.  Anyone in the Baren Forum group who is also in Exchange 48 - in case I have the number wrong it is the one with the mythology theme - and you want everything to be a total surprise, stop everything right here! Read no further.

The myth I have chosen is an old Celtic story about Angus who has gone to visit the Bov the Red, King of the Dannans of Munster, and is wined and dined (in this story I suspect there is a lot of the wined and less of the dined) for three days and nights, during which Angus spills the beans for his visit: he is madly in love with a maiden of whom he has only dreamed.  Bov, being a god himself, knows to take Angus to the the lake shore where there are 50 + 1 swans, the 1 being taller than all of the others and he recognizes the maiden he has been smitten by 6 months ago in his dream.  He demands to have her name, which is Caer, daughter of Ethal Anubal.  They send a message to EA requesting Caer's hand, but he refuses to give her up.  BTW Bov has explained to Angus that Caer spends 6 months of the year as a maiden and the other 6 months as a swan.  Well, Angus enlists the help of other gods and again requests Caer's hand, and again he is denied.  But, her father explains that she is more powerful than he and it is not in his power to give her to him.  However, if he will go to the Lake of the Dragon's Mouth, next November 1, he will see her with 150 other swans.  So, the next Nov. Angus is on the edge of the lake looking out over this sea of swans and he calls to Caer.  She asks, "Who calls me?" (The dialogue in these stories is not real original) Angus declares who he is and he plunges into the lake where he is immediately transformed into a swan, which is a form of acceptance, and they fly off together to the Palace on the lake.  After that they fly to the palace on the Boyne, uttering as they go a music so divine that all who hear it are lulled to sleep for three days and nights.  Angus is a special deity and friend of beautiful youths and maidens.  His full name is Angus Øg, (Angus the young) son of the Dagda and by Boanna (the River Boyne). His palace was at New Grange on the River Boyne.

The image I have come up with will take a bit of time for me to accomplish, but it should keep me busy and off the streets between now and May 1 when the prints are due.

This is a rendering of the design in colored pencil.  The two swans are far from anatomically correct, but that's the way we Irish do things: do whatever is needed for the design.) Now, we will see how accurate it is after I have cursed and cried and screamed hysterically through the carving of the blocks.  The materials I needed  came in from McClains yesterday - I'm hoping to get a bit of carving done before I leave for FL for a week.  When I get back it will be nose to the woodblock, shoulder to the wheel, eye on the barrel of the bat, etc.  And, as long as no one distracts me with a pretty good social opportunity I can do this!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

More Greed and Lies

Finally, I have managed to take a black and white print on Somerset paper which actually shows the block much better than that wonderful, silky, draping like cloth paper with the white on white Japanese symbols. I really do love that paper - the symbols represent pine, plum and bamboo - or so it says on the label.  Did I mention that the block is 20" x 24"?  It takes a 22" x 30" sheet to do one print.  Also, I found a very elemental system to register that little green "bp" block which was burnished by hand with my trusty bamboo covered baren, so no more wasting paper by guessing where to put that little stinker.

I think this is a strong image, but of course, I have to do some more playing around with it. That will be tomorrow.  
The wonderful filmy paper I am so in love with has white on white small Japanese symbols for pine, plum and bamboo, which could serve as symbols of the many species of both flora and fauna of the gulf who are now endangered in one way or another.

I hope you can see the white on white symbols and, of course, you can see them when they are where the black ink happens to print over them.  It gives a feeling of layers and I love layers of imagery and commentary.
Next is to find the ideal way to attach a few more panels to the "bolt of fabric" - that will happen after the ink dries enough that I can handle them without smudging.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fabric of the Gulf: Greed and Lies

Finally I am back to my other love: the woodblock.  I've had this block carved and proofed and ready to go for months, but other deadlines kept pushing it to the back of the line.  Then North Bank Gallery decided to do a Seven Deadly Sins show and I was half way there!  Where on earth was their less greed and lies than in the Gulf Oil spill of this last year?  I figured I probably had all the sins covered with this one print, almost all, anyway.

It is a little hard to tell one thing from another in these photos and, of course, I do not have a flat print - that will have to be another day.  Actually, there are two blocks on this piece - the "bp"(not shown) are printed in British Petroleum green.
I pulled about 6 prints onto a very thin and silky paper with a white on white design.  While waiting for them to dry I found a piece of melmanine composite board which I cut to the size I needed and screwed a cardboard bolt form, and some wooden reinforcement, to it. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to run the saws, drill press, sander, etc., and the resulting mess there is to clean up.
When the prints were dry enough to work with I proceeded to wrap the bolt form, first with a piece of Sommerset white paper and then around several times with the silky woodblock prints until I had a bolt of the Fabric of the Gulf.

It looks like fabric - even the feel of it gives you much more of a sense of fabric than fabric itself.  So, why didn't I just print it on fabric and have it over with?  Oh, who knows, I kind of like the idea that it is one thing representing another -- especially with the theme of the show being sin and I'm working with greed and lies.  And this paper is so thin and silky and though it is probably tougher than wine leather, it has a very fragile appearance - not unlike the gulf ecosystem.
The top of the bolt is, more or less, authentic (big lie), too – however what it says is the truth!

I'm hoping you can click on that and be able to read it - if not it says: Gulf Black Plague, 100% oil pollution, Machine wash cool, certified dispersants, lie, lie, lie.  And where the price is: $200 billion.

That about covers it - I will pull a regular, "hang on the wall" print tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Massive Amount of Work

I've been very quiet for a couple of months - in October and November I was busy getting ready for the  Miniature show - who would have guessed that working on a 4" format could be so difficult.  After struggling to get myself down to those dimensions I found out the maximum was 5"x7".  Oh well, that work is done and off to new homes.  But, there was no rest for the weary because Xmas was practically here and I was off to North (freeze your tuche off) Dakota for a wonderful visit with the daughter and son-in-law and the worlds two most gorgeous and intelligent granddaughters.  Of course, I caught the obligatory Xmas Airport Cold, but could take no time off to soak in the misery of it.  It was back to work immediately because the call for massive work to be ready for the February show wasn't even started, yet.  Well, it is finished and hung in the gallery now.  My God, what a massive amount of work for one skinny little month.  The work is only 5' x 5' and is comprised of 36 nine inch squares.  Each "tile" has been printed with a yellow squiggly background, then a misty blue plate, and the circles in gold, and one of six various motif's: compass rose, geometric star, clock face, Celtic knot, Gordian knot, and Fleur de Lis. When those were dry a proverb was printed on each, some machine sewing with a varigated metallic thread (which was a bitch to work with) a little color pencil to highlight.  Then they were mounted onto print paper, followed by matboard, coated with a cold wax medium, eyelets and ball chain were attached. I will never do this again - so this is it, kids.  
A sample of one of the individual squares:

I'll be posting more of the individual images at http//www.barebonesart.com.  It was quite a chore hanging this piece, so I may not get to the website until tomorrow - I feel a rest period coming on....